July 9, 2004
Keeping Summer Fun Safe
Summer, with its warmer temperatures and sunny skies, entices everyone to get moving and enjoy the outdoors. While boosting activity levels can increase summer fun, the season presents hazards to personal health and safety if one does not exercise caution.
“Active people are generally more susceptible to a wide range of injuries,” says James G. Adams, MD, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “At this time of the year, we commonly see patients with broken bones from falls and crashes while jogging and bike riding, burns from outdoor grills, and alcohol intoxication, to name a few health problems.”
A visit to the emergency room can put a damper on summer plans. So before the next backyard barbeque, beach outing, open-air concert, or late night clubbing excursion, keep in mind these tips to keep you healthy, safe, and happy:
* Grill with caution and good sense. For example, spraying lighter fluid on heating coals can be a recipe for disaster as well as applying alcohol-based lotion right before tossing your shrimp on the “bar-bee.” According to Dr. Adams. “These types of lotions can ignite your skin.”
* If you get your exercise biking, running, or rollerblading, be on the defensive especially in traffic. “Follow the rules of the road, ride slowly in crowded areas, and anticipate turning cars or opening car doors,” says this professor of emergency medicine. “Always wear helmets and wrist guards.”
* Never dive head first into a lake, pond, or unfamiliar body of water. “During the summer months, people will drown or become paralyzed from diving accidents,” notes Dr. Adams. “While rare, these are tragic occurrences.”
* Drink alcohol in moderation. Sports drinks, water, or juices serve as a good substitute. “You will feel better, have more energy,” says Dr. Adams, “and avoid injury.”
* Wear sunscreen all the time. To protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher; reapplying sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or strenuous activity; and avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
And last but not least: smile, and have a good time. After all, summer only comes around once a year.